A site of ancient civilization of Kalinga, set along the now dead Prachi River, the valley was once a beautiful synthesis of human civilization embracing all religion and sects and was a centre of art, culture and learning spread across 600 Sq KM. The Prachi River is considered the holiest river in the region and originates from the river Kuakhei which is a tributary of river Mahanadi. Currently the river flows for approximately 50 KM from Phulnakhra along NH5 and meets the Bay of Bengal through several mouths from Kalikanagar to Ramchandi.
Prachi Valley is believed to be the birth place of Vaishnavism in Odisha. The worship of Lord Vishnu and hymns sung in his devotion inspired a young Jaydev to pen the epic Geeta Gobinda which is the finest literary work from Odisha.
Prachi Valley also inspired Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who visited the place often during his stay in Odisha. He formed a group called "Panchasakha" (Literally meaning five friends) who deeply influenced both the Odia spiritualism and literature. The five were Balaram Das, Jagannath Das, Achyutananda Das , Ananta Das and Jasobanta Das. They lived between 1450 AD- 1550 AD. Though not contemporaries they were called Panchasakhas by Chaitanya because they adhered to the same school of though i.e Utkaliya Vaishnavism,the most significant achievement of the Panchasakhas was that they simplified religion for the common man.
Amongst the Panchaskahas Shri Ananta Das samadhi is in Prachi Valley the place is called Sishuanatapur. Since the first five the tradition of Panchasakha was kept alive as the title was conferred to enlightened minds of the subequent generation. The last group venerated Panchasakha's were Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das, Pandit Godabarish Misra,Acharya Harihar Das, Krupasindhu Mishra and Pandit Nilakantha Das.
The region of late has been a subject to a lot of researches and studies been conducted by the historians and academics. One can see a lot of research articles on the valley on the internet.
However while touring the place, with so much history concealed in the local pockets, one can’t help but have the feel the absence of a Guided tour.
A tour of the valley should be undertaken with time on hand.
Carry essential items like snacks and water bottles if you plan a day long tour to the valley, though the shops in front of Jaydev Vatika does have the chip packets, water bottles etc along with Bharat Sahoo’s shack selling snacks (see Jayadev Vatika section for contact information).
As mentioned there are no guides and one has to rely on the locals for information.
Your best option to explore the Prachi Valley is to do it with your vehicle. One can alternately hire a cab or an auto, but it depends on how sensitised the driver is.
Located at Kenduvilwu between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, Jaydev Vatika is the birthplace of the most famous poet of Odisha and also the place where he attained enlightenment (the neem tree under which he meditated is still there) and wrote his most famous literary work Gita Govinda. Spread over 25 acres with sitting areas and a stream passing through to compliment the greenery around- the unkempt landscape in patches are believed to be forest land from the time of Kharavela. There are twenty four groves in the park, recreated as per the description of nature and natural beauty in Gita Govinda to go with 168 varieties of medicinal plants.
There is a museum within the campus which houses some of the most beautiful sculptures excavated from the valley.
Timings for the park : 8 AM. – 5 PM.
Timings for the museum : Same as for the park but for the lunch break between 2.30 P.M. - 4 PM.
The place is an ideal picnic spot and arrangements are available to facilitate the same. However non vegetarian food isn’t allowed inside the Vatika. If one wants to non vegetarian on the menu then one can cook and consume outside the premises of the Vatika.
For cooking or for facilitation one can contact the shack just outside the Jayadev Vatika entrance gate, it run by a gentleman by the name of Mr. Bharat Sahoo and his son Mr. Raja Sahoo.
The contact numbers are:
Bharat Sahoo - +91-9040182045
Raja Sahoo- +91-8093288250
Located around 3 KM from the Jayadev Vatika- this ancient temple has a male ascetic believed to be Jayadev as the presiding deity. Not much is known about the temple as is the case with many monuments of historical significance in the state. The architecture of the temple denotes that it was constructed in the old Kalinga School of architecture. The adjoining pond and the paddy field at the front of the temple make for a picturesque setting.